Had I submitted picks for last weekend’s divisional playoff games, I would have gotten all four games wrong. I don’t put much stock in my ability to predict the future and I don’t listen to other people’s predictions much either. However, I was quite pleased by all of the results. I am a Bear fan and they were able to set up a mega-match up with Green Bay. I wasn’t sorry to see the Patriots lose either, which was much like the Seahawks’ win in the Wild Card round. I definitely don’t mind being wrong if everyone else is as well. So, we have two big games this weekend: one I care very much about and the other which should be an interesting game that I can watch dispassionately. Let’s take a quick look at the fantasy implications of both games:
Jets at Steelers
I think there is a big chance that the Jets won their Super Bowl last week. They played a nearly flawless game to beat the Patriots. While I don’t believe in prediction abilities, I do believe in regressing to the mean. The Steelers are a better match up than the Patriots in that the Pittsburgh offensive line is not as good as the New England line. Speaking of offensive lines, I wrote about them all season long and none of the four teams have what I would consider a great line. I thought the Patriots and Falcons had the best lines. So much for that being a great factor! Since the Steelers just beat the Ravens and I think the Ravens and Jets are similar, it would make sense that I think the Steelers will beat the Jets. I am not expecting much production out of Rashard Mendenhall, who had 99 yards and a TD in 17 carries when the teams faced off on Dec. 19. That was the last time the Steelers lost and the only time since Nov. 14 that they were beaten. New York has a better secondary than Baltimore, and Mike Wallace may be eliminated as an option as he steps on Revis Island. Wallace had seven receptions and 102 yards. The Steelers’ defense may be able to take advantage of Marc Sanchez and he was just 19-for-29 for 170 yards in the win. Keep an eye on Emmanuel Sanders who had seven catches for 78 yards in the first meeting.
Packers at Bears
If I were still living in Wisconsin (as I was three years ago), I would be unable to rationally analyze this match up. I used to get physically ill when the Bears played the Packers because the game meant a bit too much to me. When the Bears won, it was great to have the quiet Packer fans around. If the Bears lost, I was the sullen one. My hate for the Packers has cooled over the last three years, which may or may not be a coincidence since a certain aged quarterback has moved on. It would seem that Aaron Rodgers would be a fine player to hate, but I just don’t have it in me anymore. My guess is that the AFC championship will be a relatively high scoring game and the NFC game will be low scoring. In the two regular season meetings, the teams combined for 50 points. While the Bear offense might not have been stoked to its utmost in Week 17, I would bet the under if I were a betting man. I don’t think the Packers will be able to run the ball like they did against Philadelphia in the Wild Card round, but I am not confident that the Bears will be able to contain Rodgers. In Week 17, he threw for 229 yards and the game’s only TD. If the Bears are to win, they will have to continue to have success running the ball to slow the Packer pressure. Matt Forte had a combined 151 yards (91 rushing, 60 receiving) in Week 17 and will be the key to the Bears. Of course, Jay Cutler will need to limit his mistakes. If you want a deep sleeper, take a look at Rashied Davis who had seven receptions for 63 yards in Week 17. He only had two receptions the rest of the season as he concentrated on special teams (an area where the Bears should have a significant advantage).
Enjoy the games!